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Shantaram | [Gregory David Roberts]

Shantaram

A novel of high adventure, great storytelling and moral purpose, based on an extraordinary true story of eight years in the Bombay underworld. In the early 80s, Gregory David Roberts, an armed robber and heroin addict, escaped from an Australian prison to India, where he lived in a Bombay slum. There, he established a free health clinic and also joined the mafia, working as a money launderer, forger and street soldier. He found time to learn Hindi and Marathi, fall in love, and spend time being worked over in an Indian jail.
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Publisher's Summary

A novel of high adventure, great storytelling and moral purpose, based on an extraordinary true story of eight years in the Bombay underworld.

In the early 80s, Gregory David Roberts, an armed robber and heroin addict, escaped from an Australian prison to India, where he lived in a Bombay slum. There, he established a free health clinic and also joined the mafia, working as a money launderer, forger and street soldier. He found time to learn Hindi and Marathi, fall in love, and spend time being worked over in an Indian jail. Then, in case anyone thought he was slacking, he acted in Bollywood and fought with the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan...

Amazingly, Roberts wrote Shantaram three times after prison guards trashed the first two versions. It's a profound tribute to his willpower...

©2003 Gregory David Roberts (P)2006 Black Stone Audio Inc

What the Critics Say

"Extraordinary vivid...a gigantic, jaw-dropping, grittily authentic saga." (Daily Mail)

"Powerful and original...a remarkable achievement." (Sunday Telegraph)

"Vivid and compassionate...impressive." (Guardian)

"A publishing phenomenon." (Sunday Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.5 (40 )
5 star
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4.5 (37 )
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4.9 (36 )
5 star
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4 star
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2 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Murray Clifton Grove, Australia 02-17-15
    Murray Clifton Grove, Australia 02-17-15 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
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    7
    7
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    0
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    "It is a bit far fetched"

    Entertaining story if you can get past the fact that the story teller is a very tough guy with a real liking for poetic prose! Just doesn't come across as feasible.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deane Fernando 02-11-15
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great Read, I could not put it down."

    Good storyline and great insight into the slums and of the underground movement of Bombay (India) the accents were really good. I would recommend this book where quite a few cultures come together.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gustavo 01-25-15
    Gustavo 01-25-15 Member Since 2013
    ratings
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    7
    2
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    Performance
    Story
    "Great book!"

    I get to know about Santaram by an interview from Tim Ferris to Kevin Kelly. Kevin was right, it gets you from the first paragraph.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lisa Auckland, New Zealand 01-23-15
    Lisa Auckland, New Zealand 01-23-15 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    33
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    35
    29
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    2
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    "Epic Entertainment; Phenomenal Narration"
    What did you love best about Shantaram?

    Hugely entertaining, you get totally immersed in his life and world.
    Felt like I could have kept listening to his story forever, you almost forget it has to end some time.
    The detail and length of the book makes you think it was written by someone who spent years in jail with nothing to do but write obsessively, day after day, year after year.
    Oh right...
    Just as well he's a great writer, with fascinating experiences to draw on and the imagination to fill it out with even more fascinating experiences.
    Every one of the 42 hours is entertaining, which makes it probably the best value book I've ever listened to.


    What about Humphrey Bower’s performance did you like?

    Hard to describe how phenomenally good the narration was.
    This guy is the master of accents. There are dozens of characters, male and female, from many different countries, and he nails every single one of them brilliantly, every one of them totally distinct from the next.
    Also brilliant when not doing dialogue, just narrating the story.
    And he makes you like Lin, even though he spends a lot of the story doing very unlikeable things.
    I was so impressed I immediately looked for other books he's done and got one straight away.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Prabaka is the standout character. Almost every time he speaks he makes you laugh.


    Any additional comments?

    The obvious comments which will have been said a thousand times before -
    It's a little bit disturbing not knowing where the non-fiction blurs with the fiction, and lots of times when you think "come on, do you have to go quite so far into the realm of unbelievability?" But then again, maybe it's true.
    And his casual acceptance of the psychopathic and barbarian behavior of his mafia friends, while making out that he's generally a decent guy himself.

    Be prepared for the ultimate WTF?? When the book abruptly ends in what feels like the middle of a chapter, with several chapters still to go.
    Did he suddenly get an early release and say - right, that's it, I'm over writing, can't do another word. Never mind the story's not finished?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Martin 01-05-15
    Martin 01-05-15 Member Since 2015
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    12
    1
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    Performance
    Story
    "Maybe the best book I ever heard"
    What made the experience of listening to Shantaram the most enjoyable?

    This story got it all. And I am endlessly thankful to the narrator adding even more to the wonderful characters of the book.


    What did you like best about this story?

    It is funny, it is exciting, it is insightful. It is moving. It is moralistic but not too much. It is honest. It is complete.


    What does Humphrey Bower bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    He makes me laugh a thousand times - nothing less.


    Who was the most memorable character of Shantaram and why?

    Prabo, because of Humprey Bower the narrator.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jerome 11-22-14
    Jerome 11-22-14 Member Since 2015
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    10
    2
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    Performance
    Story
    "Masterpiece"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Shantaram to be better than the print version?

    Yes I think the audio version is better. The reader brings all the characters of the book to life. It is a delight to hear Didier or Prabu speak with a perfectly rendered French or Indian accent.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    I like Prabu for his kindness, honesty and humor.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I loved the dialog between Prabu and the bus driver when Lin goes to visit Prabu's village.
    Hilarious.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Too many to count. The torture scenes, Prabu's death, the first days in the slum, Joseph's punishment, Kano the bear in prison etc.


    Any additional comments?

    I am glad I downloaded this wonderful book. The story is complex and beautiful, the narrator is amazing and I must say that I was very impressed by the writing. For me this is a complete work, a masterpiece

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Albie Centurion, South Africa 11-04-14
    Albie Centurion, South Africa 11-04-14 Member Since 2015

    Keen reader, fiction and well written non-fiction. Listen to audios whilst riding my mountain bike - great experience

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    2
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    Performance
    Story
    "A Top 10 Must Read (Listen) For Life"
    What did you love best about Shantaram?

    This remains one of my favorite epic novels - amazing characters, adventure, propulsive narrative drive - you name it!


    What did you like best about this story?

    Can one man live such an exciting and full life? Roberts did and lived to tell the tale.


    Have you listened to any of Humphrey Bower’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Absolute best, can not think of a better narrater.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No. Enjoy it slowly.


    Any additional comments?

    The only think better than reading the novel, is to listen to this audiobook.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Forster, Australia 09-02-14
    Michael Forster, Australia 09-02-14 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
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    3
    3
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    "Interesting but bordering on absurd at times."

    Humphrey Bower makes this book a success. The author Gregory Roberts has written an interesting, descriptive story, with well developed characters. The spoiler is Roberts almost bizarre descriptions of his heroic survival in the face of impossible odds. Eg he survives hour after hour of beatings with sticks by numerous people despite being malnourished, having lost half his bodyweight and racked with illness. He should also be in line for Sainthood in India for his selfless work in the slums. I must say he puts Mother Teresa to shame with his tireless efforts in serving the poor. Other than his clearly delusional image of himself and dragging descriptions out the story holds your attention but mainly due to the masterful way Bower portrays the characters and his incredible ability to switch voices with the characters flawlessly.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tracey craigmore, Australia 08-31-14
    Tracey craigmore, Australia 08-31-14 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
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    148
    69
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    0
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    Story
    "lost in india"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Shantaram to be better than the print version?

    haven,t read print edition


    What other book might you compare Shantaram to and why?

    i suppose it is a little like a bryce courtney type of the potato factory


    Which scene was your favorite?

    the mountain trek to afganistan


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    no i think in a way it is a bit heavy for one sitting taking a brake from it is good then coming again to listen


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mr Dunedin, New Zealand 06-27-14
    Mr Dunedin, New Zealand 06-27-14 Member Since 2014

    suarvemonkey

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    8
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Amazing"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Shantaram to be better than the print version?

    Yes, I would definitely consider it better than the print version - Humphrey Bower brings all of the characters to life. He is the best performer I have heard yet.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    I think all of them were great. I was worried because I have other bits of Humphrey Bowers work, and was unsure if he could pull off the accents needed. I needn't have worried.


    What about Humphrey Bower’s performance did you like?

    Everything.


    If you could rename Shantaram, what would you call it?

    "One of the finest, most beautiful books ever written"


    Any additional comments?

    You won't be disappointed.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 10 results
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  • Michaela Mekler
    8/11/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great for a rookie!"
    If you could sum up Shantaram in three words, what would they be?

    Brave, free, good


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Having spent some time traveling in India I could relate to quite a few of the characters. Prabu is my favourite because he made me feel happy!


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    The book gets darker as it goes on so I really enjoyed the naive getting to know India/ Mumbai in the beginning of the book.


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    I am unfortunately no copywriter...


    Any additional comments?

    This is a great book for all that love India. Gregory David Roberts has very much grasped how India is a very orderly mess. That's how I always felt about the place.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • ANDREW
    GODALMING, United Kingdom
    7/14/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent reading of a great story"
    What made the experience of listening to Shantaram the most enjoyable?

    I'd read the book before and really enjoyed it. I saw it was available on Audible and thought that, if well done, it would be a fantastic audiobook to get completely immersed in. I wasn't disappointed. The book is not without its flaws, but it's a compelling and epic story that I find myself totally hooked by.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Hard to pick a favourite as there are so many compelling characters. I think the audio version of the book really brought out some of the more minor characters, for example Didier.


    What about Humphrey Bower’s performance did you like?

    I was impressed by his ability to voice all the characters. There are so many and I thought he did a really good job giving each an individual voice.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    So many - and impossible to say without giving major spoilers!


    Any additional comments?

    A great book, turned into a brilliant audiobook.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Sigrin
    Valdisere, France
    10/8/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Inside the Bombay Mafia"

    Firstly hats off to Humphrey Bower what an amazing narrator.
    This book was a rollercoaster adventure of life in India more specifically Bombay and the mafia that controls it. Some of the book I feel was written and remembered in a drug infused haze, but was very philosophical. Mr Roberts descriptions were often over the top, with more adjectives than you could cook dinner with. There were parts of the story that were unbelievable, when he saved someones life with CPR, he had just described the person as blue with rigor mortis!
    Never the less it was still an excellent book. I still feel there are questions to what happened next, and also what of his past life and family in Australia now?

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Ms A. Mcculloch
    UK
    9/3/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Enjoy the Ride!"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    To a friend used to the kinds of beautifully-crafted prose that might be expected in a typical work of literary fiction, and for whom the quality of the writing itself is important I would suggest they think twice before starting this book. As other reviewers have said, it contains a good deal of pompous, purple, cliche-ridden and dubious writing and is the worse for it. However to a friend who loves an adventure novel, a travel book and a ripping yarn, I would heartily recommend. The cast of characters is cliched, many of them horribly stereotyped, thin and poorly drawn, the first-person narrator comes across as a narcissistic twit and I'm astonished these problems with the book were not better addressed at editing stage. By contrast the characters of Bombay, of Pakistan and Afghanistan, of the bars and chai shops and streets and slums are deliciously, sensuously described and are the real stars of this huge great show of a novel. What Gregory David Roberts lacks in creating believable, sympathetic characters he more than makes up for in writing a romping good story, full of exquisite descriptive detail, brilliant highs and desperate, heart rending lows. Humphrey Bower's handling of the many voices, accents and dialects in this novel, and the range of feeling he communicates is a joy to listen to. I was close to giving up on the book after the first few chapters because the writing was annoying me so much. How grateful I am to have persevered; to have stopped judging the book by its faults, and to simply enjoy it for the rollicking good ride that it is.


    Have you listened to any of Humphrey Bower’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    I hadn't come across Humphrey Bower before but will now be seeking out more of his work: the reading was first-class.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Simon Smith
    3/4/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "lots of lessons"

    this book is full of lessons for life, what we think we know and what is actually present

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • darwdoow
    3/2/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "INCREDIBLE. I'm recommending it to everyone I know"

    what beautiful writing and what a life to have lived. The narrator read it wonderfully and portrayed each character so well. This was actually my first audio book (as an adult!) and any future ones have a lot to live up to!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Camilla
    2/23/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fantastic"
    If you could sum up Shantaram in three words, what would they be?

    Gripping, Exciting, Unbelivable


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Shantaram?

    The 'Bear Hug' and Lyn's description of it.


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    There are so many to pick from! But the death of Probako is incredible! Its written well and portrays emotions perfectly.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The entire book is moving. You are both disgusted and envious of Gregory's life. 'Lyn' settling into the slum was very moving.


    Any additional comments?

    This book is fantastic. Its size is initially offputting, but people will soon get into it and be enthralled. Especially good for anyone who has experienced Indian culture. the characters are funny, moving and uniquelt indicidual.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    GB
    2/14/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Best audible book ever"

    I have read this book many times and consider it as a work of pure love. I was reluctant to purchase the audio version believing that it could only take something away from my pleasure in this book. Boy was I wrong. Humphrey Bower the narrator made me laugh out loud feel scared and uneasy and made me she'd a few tears. He is simply the most authentic rich and personal narrator I have had the pleasure of listening to. I honestly believe the narration of this life changing book will change a wee part of your soul.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Lorraine
    2/12/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Exceptional"

    This book captured me from the very beginning! I feel as though I know India without having to go, which I will one of these days. An incredible read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    2/9/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great storytelling"

    Some great storytelling brought to life by amazing narration. The stories centred around the people in the slums were always a favourite.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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